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Fiction Book Reviews

Review | A Family Secret | Libby Ashworth

We’re delighted to be sharing Elena’s thoughts about A Family Secret by Libby Ashworth on the Arrow tour.

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Review

It’s 1842 in Lancashire. Bessie works long hours as a weaver with her father Titus. Her sister Peggy is training to be a schoolmistress and their mother Jennet takes in laundry in order to make ends meet. Life is hard for the family with the threat of mill closures. 

The sisters are very different. Bessie has never felt as though she’s accepted by her father whereas Peggy is the favoured one. She longs to have the opportunities and affection that Peggy receives and has never questioned her fate as a weaver, set to work gruelling 12 hour days. When a figure from Jennet and Titus’ past returns it completely throws the family’s life into chaos, ultimately creating chances for them all that they could only have dreamed of. Opportunities for wealth, love and happiness arrive but will their stubborn father allow them to enjoy it all? 

A Family Secret is the second book in this saga that I have read and it’s even better than the last ‘A Lancashire Lass’. I loved revisiting the family to see what the years had brought them since the last book, which focussed on Jennet’s sister, Hannah. I was really happy to see how Hannah was living and loved that she appears in brief moments in the story. 

I loved the use of the local dialect once again which provides a fantastic authenticity. Once again the author shows her deep knowledge of the history of the area and I felt I learnt so much, including about the practice of phrenology which was so popular at the time and about the slave trade with the mills and local weaving being so dependent upon the cotton imported from America. 

Sadly, I think this may be the last book in the saga but I would definitely read any other books the author writes as her storytelling is wonderful and attention to detail brilliant.

I felt so immersed as I read and it completely transported me away to a time and place I didn’t have much knowledge of before. 

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book cover for A Family Secret by Libby Ashworth

Libby Ashworth was born and raised in Lancashire, where she can trace her family back to the Middle Ages. It was while researching her family history that she realised there were so many stories about ordinary working people that she wanted to tell. She has previously written historical novels – The de Lacy Inheritance and By Loyalty Bound – as well as local history books. The Cotton Spinner is her first saga novel. Libby currently lives in Lancashire with her son.  Twitter @elizashworth


My passion is helping others to find their own oasis, their own centre of calm. I’m a qualified Dyslexia Therapist, Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Sleep Consultant, Parenting Programme Facilitator, Mindfulness practitioner, Mental Health First Aider and hold a crochet diploma.

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